1990 didn’t exactly deliver a close season, but rather vintage performances from Alain Prost and Tornado, who won six out of the 10 races and ended up comfortable championship winners. This season has the potential to be extremely close with five highly rated drivers racing for five different teams, not to mention other solid, reliable drivers that can help their teams bring home surprise results, but who out of the 11 teams will come out on top?
11th – Darkfire-Renault
After winning their first ever FF1M championship in 1989, Darkfire’s first championship defence proved to be an unsuccessful one despite having one of the best drivers at their disposal. The team seemed to very quickly admit defeat on the entire season after failing to keep Ayrton Senna and are already looking towards 1992, even if the line-up of Johnny Herbert and Stefano Modena isn’t too bad.
10th – Andrew Racing-Ferrari
Similarly, Andrew Racing’s all-Italian line-up appears to be one of preparation for the season after, as leftover credits could see big signings. Ivan Capelli will be keen to try and score a point or two after a pointless campaign with Pedersen in 1990, while Pierluigi Martini will be hoping to build on his two points scores from the previous season.
9th – Shake ‘n’ Bake-Renault
Shake ‘n’ Bake had a highly mixed 1990 campaign with the rhyming line-up of Jean Alesi and Riccardo Patrese managing one podium each and not much else. They have opted for Pedersen’s 1989 line-up of Thierry Boutsen and Martin Brundle, and have also swapped Ferrari for Renault, which didn’t exactly set the world alight last season. Don’t expect too much from the Yorkshire team, although a podium or two may not be out of the question.
8th – Willows Racing-Honda
In 1990, Willows had one driver who could quite easily bring home podium finishes, and another who could barely get out of neutral. This season, they have recruited Roberto Moreno, the surprise winner of the 1990 British Grand Prix and Mark Blundell, a rookie from Barnet. Although they have maintained the Honda engines, regular podiums aren’t likely.
7th – Mitchell-Renault
Flint Tropics Racing have reverted back to the more tradition Mitchell name for 1991, but their driver line-up is far from ordinary. Gerhard Berger is a solid, reliable driver who has won multiple races with FJR and Gojira, but Aguri Suzuki is much more of an unknown quantity having never raced in FF1M before. Renault engines are a similar calculated risk, so expect a rather up and down season for the Somerset team.
6th – Team Atlantic-Ferrari
Replacing Ajay Motorsports are the newest team on the grid, Team Atlantic, formed by Alexei Koborov. They are one of five teams on Ferrari engines, and they have recruited two former one-time race winners in the form of Jean Alesi and Derek Warwick, and could spring a surprise on a few of the established teams.
5th – FJR-Ferrari
FJR had a miserable time of it in 1990 with the capable Nelson Piquet and Mauricio Gugelmin crippled by an underpowered Judd engine and an unreliable car. On paper, 1991 looks more promising on the engine department, and with Piquet in his final season before retirement, he will be keen to end his career on a high. His teammate will be JJ Lehto, who raised a few eyebrows with points on his debut an a podium in Monaco.
4th – JGR Meister-Ferrari
Another team which ran Judd engines last season spent the entirety of the ten races longing for a powerplant than actually worked. For 1991, JGR Meister have just that with Ferrari. They also had enough money to poach Nigel Mansell from Gojira, and also sign an exciting new Finnish rookie of Mika Hakkinen. Wins are certainly possible with this line-up.
3rd – Tornado-Honda
Tornado were the class of 1990 with some superb performances from Alain Prost aided by a very dependable Thierry Boutsen. 1991 could be more of a challenge with a German rookie and an ageing Italian. However, they have maintained the powerful and reliable Honda engines, and the German rookie is none other than Michael Schumacher. Expect Tornado to be somewhere near the front, but maintaining both championships might just be too much of an ask.
2nd – Gojira-Ferrari
The Brazilian-Japanese team’s driver line-up for 1991 might seem to favour one country more than the other, but if Ayrton Senna is available to drive, then the national favouritism is an absolute no-brainer. Aside from a win at Monaco, 1990 was a season to forget for Senna, but 1991 could see him renew his rivalry with a certain French driver, who convincingly won the 1990 season.
1st – Pedersen-Honda
Pedersen surprised many last season thanks to Roberto Moreno’s brilliant win at Silverstone last season. Perhaps this gave the Danish team some impetus to push for even more in 1991, and with a line-up such as Alain Prost and Riccardo Patrese, as well as holding onto the class-leading Honda engines, Pedersen have the foundations for a strong championship challenge all set.